Verizon Acquires Drone Management Company To Take IoT To The Skies

The sky isn't necessarily the limit for Verizon's Internet of Things strategy. The telecom giant Thursday said it has bought Skyward, a drone management company.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

The latest addition to Verizon's growing IoT arsenal will help the carrier expand the reach of IoT to more use cases and build on its existing device and fleet management portfolio.

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Skyward, a privately held company based in Portland, Ore., helps global organizations wirelessly connect, integrate and manage commercial drone operations. Skyward's technology will be integrated into Verizon ThingSpace, the provider's IoT platform for developers.

Verizon in October revealed its Airborne LTE Operations strategy to help IoT "take flight" and to boost adoption of in-flight wireless connectivity, according to the Basking Ridge, N.J.-based carrier. Verizon first started testing connectivity between unmanned and manned aircraft and Verizon’s 4G LTE network in 2014.

Through its Airborne LTE Operations business unit, Verizon wants to simplify the certification process and connectivity of wireless drones, an effort that the Skyward acquisition will help further, the carrier said.

’This acquisition is a natural progression of our core focus on operating in innovative, high-growth markets, leveraging our network, scale, fleet management, device management, data analytics and security enablement capabilities and services to simplify the drone industry and help support the adoption of IoT,’ Mike Lanman, senior vice president of Enterprise Products and IoT at Verizon, said in a statement.

Skyward was founded in 2012 and has raised $8.1 million in funding. GCA Advisors acted as financial adviser to Skyward, and Perkins Coie acted as legal adviser, according to the companies.

Verizon has been aggressively building out its IoT business through acquisitions. The carrier purchased LQD WiFi, a developer of outdoor interactive displays and kiosks for smart city use cases, in November. Verizon acquired smart LED lighting provider Sensity Systems for an undisclosed amount in September. In November, it closed its acquisition of Dublin-based fleet and mobile management company Fleetmatics Group for $2.4 billion.

Revenue from the carrier's IoT business approached $1 billion in 2016. In fourth-quarter 2016, IoT revenue saw a 21 percent bump to $243 million compared with the same quarter in 2015.